Summer Camp Guide 2015

5 AWESOME Westchester Day Camps Your Kids will Love

March 4, 2015

It’s March which means it’s time to start thinking about your summer plans! Westchester is chock-full of wonderful summer camp programs for kids of all ages, but we’re super excited about the following programs which offer something special for your little campers, whether they’re extra curious kids, sports enthusiasts, ballerinas or just looking for a summer of fun. Read on!

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Challenge Camp (above)

Open the Door to a Delightful and Meaningful Summer of FUN and Learning for Your Bright, Curious Child! Challenge Camp is celebrating their 35th year of offering summer enrichment learning opportunities for bright, curious children aged 4-15. Over 100 courses ranging from 3D printing, architecture, chess,  cooking, magic, Minecraft, robotics and many options in between. Including Sports/Swimming and now Fencing!  An ACA accredited day camp in Rye, NY on 18 picturesque acres. Bus transportation, early /extended day, or Kosher lunch options available. Two sessions – 6/29 – 7/24, 7/27 – 8/14. For more information about our innovative programs, please visit www.challengecamps.com, or contact at 914-779-6024 or info@challengecamps.com.

Challenge Camp at School of the Holy Child, 2225 Westchester Avenue, Rye; (914)779-6024.

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Next Level Day Camp for Girls  (above)

Next Level Day Camp for Girls at the Ursuline School is a weekly skill-based camp that inspires girls of all abilities and interests in grades 3 through 9. Program offerings focus on sports and leadership. Additionally, campers can participate in various other activities such as yoga, cooking, writing and various STEM and art projects. At Next Level, we believe character is the core of any superstar. Our camp will allow girls to develop self-esteem, confidence, cooperation, fairness of play, and leadership in a safe, structured, and fun environment. Sessions run June 29-August 7. For more information, please visit www.nextleveldaycamp.com and to contact, 914-341-1488 or info@nextleveldaycamp.com.

Next Level Day Camp at The Ursuline School, 1354 North Avenue, New Rochelle; (914)341-1488. 

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Fenom Fitness Summer Camp  (above)

Fenom’s Summer Camp is designed to appeal to sports enthusiasts of all ages and abilities. Offering full and half day programs, Fenom will host a series of fun and interesting indoor and outdoor activities including sports fundamentals, color wars, arts, crafts & outdoor play for the little ones, relay races and obstacle courses.  The half day morning session (9am-12pm) is a morning of fun and fitness for kids ages 3 & up. Their exclusive full day package (9am-4pm) for kids 7-14 will include the morning program and Fenom’s exciting OUTDOOR ADVENTURES which will include hiking, biking, kayaking and more! Sessions run July 6 – August 7. For more information, please visit www.fenomfitness.com  or call (914)732-3000.

Fenom Fitness, 67 Grant Avenue, Harrison; (914)732-3000. 

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The Dance Gallery (above)

Dance through summer at The Dance Gallery.  The Dance Gallery offers weekly and daily dance programs for ages 4-18.  Dancers will learn a variety of different styles of dance including ballet, musical theater, and modern, as well as yoga.  The Tiny Dancer (ages 4-6) program, running 7/6-7/31, will have a weekly theme including costume creation and a performance at the end of each week.  Dancers ages 7+ will have the opportunity to dance with guest teachers from Broadway and beyond during sessions running 6/29-7/10.  For more information, please visit www.thedancegalleryny.com or email info@thedancegalleryny.com.  Wee Westchester readers who register for full sessions before April 15 will receive 10% off.

The Dance Gallery, 25 Main Street, Tuckahoe; (914) 255-4092. 

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Alcott School Summer Fun 

Alcott’s Summer Fun Program offers an extension and enrichment of the Montessori philosophy. Art and science activities are built into themes, such as, Aloha Summer; The Great Outdoors; and Paint, Pencils & Picasso. Both locations offer full and half day options for 2-5 year olds. Extended days are available at the Scarsdale site. Experienced certified teachers provide a supportive and engaging environment. Come learn with us and have lots of fun. Sessions runs June 29th – August 7 or 14 (depending on location). For more information, visit www.alcottschool.org or call (914)693-4422 to arrange a tour.

Alcott School, 27 Crane Road, Scarsdale; (914)472-4404 and 535 Broadway, Dobbs Ferry; (914)693-4443

 

Advertorial 

Chocolatiers in Training

Scarsdale's Chocolate Works is the perfect setting for a fun and yummy playdate

March 2, 2015

By Nancy Fann-Im, a freelance writer and editor who blogs at trippyplaces.blogspot.com

With the home stretch of winter upon us, my ideas for kid-friendly indoor activities have dwindled to an alarmingly short list. But one activity that I’d saved for when things got really desperate turned out to be a big hit with my three-year-old and his two buddies. For a Friday afternoon playdate, we met at Chocolate Works in Scarsdale, where the kids made their own confectioneries in a delightfully gooey and educational two-part workshop.

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First the boys picked out a mold for making their own pieces of chocolate, with the choices ranging from teddy bear to Ninja Turtle to iPhone. We lined up by a large, melted pot of chocolate connected to a pump, and the three chocolatiers got to squirt liquid goodness into their molds. The pieces were then transferred to a refrigerator to set, and we were given an informative lesson on cocoa beans and how chocolate is made.

Next, the kids got to dip a marshmallow, Oreo cookie or pretzel in liquid chocolate, top it with more candies, and watch their confectionery masterpieces journey slowly down a conveyor belt to cool and harden. The whole process takes just under 10 minutes and can be a little difficult for three-year-olds to watch, as it’s a true test of patience! It turns out that while making chocolate is fun, eating chocolate is still preferable.

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The workshop at Chocolate Works is $25 a child for both the molding and conveyor belt activities, or $15 for your choice of one; reservations must be made in advance. The staff is extremely pleasant and will gear the educational aspect of the workshop to the age group. For those who want to skip the chocolate-making part and go straight to chocolate-eating, there’s also a display of confectioneries for purchase at the front of the shop. Special orders for party favors and other chocolate gifts can also be placed.

Chocolate Works, 450 Central Park Avenue, Scarsdale; 914-713-8879

Make Spring Flowers out of Snow Showers

Check out this adorable idea for outdoor flowers in the snow

February 27, 2015

My cousin lives in Rochester, so I can’t complain about the weather down here too much. Recently she posted these adorable pictures of flowers in the snow that she and her 6-year old daughter created. It’s too cute!

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They simply used water dyed with food coloring in a squeeze bottle to make the flowers. For the rainbow and grass, they put the water in a spray bottle for a hazy effect.

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Her house looked like spring all day…til it snowed AGAIN that night.

10168133_10206184134912342_4229703326802979297_nDo you have any other creative ideas for fun in the snow? Leave a comment and let us know!

 

12 Indoor Spots for Kids in Northern Westchester

From Mt. Kisco to Peekskill, get those kids moving.

February 25, 2015

Jennifer Garry, who blogs at Cuddles and Chaos, covers Northern Westchester for Wee Westchester. 

I don’t know about you, but this winter has kicked my butt. Between the freezing temperatures, the seemingly endless snow and the stomach virus that just won’t go away, I am one burnt out momma. I’ve collected tons of ideas for indoor activities to do with kids at home, but sometimes cabin fever takes over and you just need to get out.

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That’s when I turned to the other moms in my life and asked them (sort of desperately): What are the best indoor spots for kids in Northern Westchester? Here’s what we came up with:

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Jodi’s Gym, Mt. Kisco
With classes ranging from 9 months to the tween years, your kids will love running, jumping and tumbling their little hearts out here. Classes range from Teeny Tumblers to Girls Advanced Gymnastics and membership perks include free open playtimes, skill clinics and family events. Check out their website for info on the different classes offered and schedules. 25 Hubbels Drive, Mt Kisco; 914-244-8811

Yorktown Museum, Yorktown Heights
If your family is looking for a little taste of history, this might be just the place for you. There are a few changing exhibits alongside permanent ones that spotlight the Mohegan Indians, farming, railroading and more. They also have a gift shop that’s bursting with unique gifts including small toys and doll house accessories. Admission here is free (though donations are appreciated). Check out the website for hours. 1974 Commerce Street; 914-962-2970

Bounce U, Elmsford
I heard great things about Bounce U in the past, but I’m always a little leery of places like this. My mind immediately shrieks things like Germs! and Danger!, but when we went there for a birthday party I was pleasantly surprised. There are so many different inflatable structures for the kids to climb and bounce around on—and it was run like a well-oiled machine. My daughter had a blast getting rid of a lot of pent up energy. And they don’t just do parties! Check out their website for Open Bounce options. 150 Clearbrook Lane, Elmsford; 914-874-5200

Grand Prix, Mt. Kisco
This place sounds awesome. I hadn’t heard of it until one of the moms I asked said she was having her son’s birthday party there. They have everything from go-kart racing and bowling to an arcade and gaming pavilion to a bouncy castle (with a Toddler Town for the littles!) and an art garage where kids can paint pottery, do mosaic tiling and more. It honestly sounds like they have something for everyone. And with a restaurant onsite, you can really turn it into a full-day affair. Call or check out their website for scheduling. 333 N. Bedford Road, Mt. Kisco; 914-241-3131

A Maze In Pottery, Briarcliff Manor
I’ve been wanting to check out this spot for a while now. They’ve got a big collection of pottery that you can walk in and paint. My girls would absolutely love this. My seven year old’s friend Ari certainly did. She said, “We had so much fun there! I loved painting the birdies on my own plate and that I have it always at home. It was really cool!” Her mom totally agreed, adding “They have high quality pottery pieces and a wide variety of vibrant colors. The assistants are friendly and great with the kids, never losing their smile of patience; and, Ari is right, it is really nice to have the pieces at home as a souvenir of the fun time spent there.” Sign us up! They also have classes and events, so check out their website. 96 N. State Road, Briarcliff Manor; 914-502-0088

Kidville, Mt. Kisco
If you’re looking for one spot to bring young kids with different interests to, this is your place. They have classes for kids six and under in pretty much everything: from art and dance to gym and music. There are also open playspace hours daily to let the kids run wild. Check out the website for hours and details. 145 Mt. Kisco Avenue, Mt. Kisco; 914-458-1909

WeeZee, Chappaqua
This is another one I hadn’t heard of until one of the moms I asked mentioned it. “We loved WeeZee because it had some of the most unique play areas we had ever seen,” said Sara. “From hammock swings to a real recording studio, WeeZee engages all of a child’s senses and allows for creative play and interaction. The ‘coaches’ (employees) were phenomenal with the kids as well.”

I was certainly intrigued, so I hopped over to their website and saw that they call themselves a children’s health club and strive to use all five senses to create adventures for kids from 12 months to 12 years old. And let me tell you, it looks pretty awesome. They offer a variety of membership options and have some programs open for non-members during school breaks. Check out their site for more details. 480 North Bedford Road, Chappaqua; 914-752-2100

Gymboree, Yorktown
Designed to develop cognitive, physical and social skills of children aged 0-5 as they play, Gymboree has a variety of weekly classes available to its members. Classes are broken into six-month increments to focus on kids’ developmental abilities. Whether you’re interested in Play and Learn, music, art or sports, I haven’t met a momma that didn’t love her family’s Gymboree experience. 3631 Hill Blvd., Jefferson Valley; 866-477-3700 

Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah
Looking to soak up a little culture? The Katonah Museum of Art is a great place for kids to wander around exploring art (they even have activity sheets to help guide kids through the different galleries). There is also a hands-on learning center and a variety of art workshops. Check out their programs for details on Family Days, Tuesdays for Tots, Story Time and more! 134 Jay Street, Katonah; 914-232-9555

Jumpin’ Jeepers, Mahopac
This place is one of our favorite go-tos—especially since you can find great deals for them on Groupon so often. My kids (who are seven and almost three) would stay there all day if they could. There are places to bounce, places to climb, a dress up area, food stand, baby zone… so much goodness! They also have classes throughout the week if you’re interested in a little structure with your play. Added bonus: they have a little café where you can buy snacks or you can bring your own—just remember to leave the nuts behind, they’re a nut free zone! Check out their site (or their Facebook page) for schedule updates! 926 US 6, Mahopac; 845-621-4922

Cortlandt Lanes, Cortlandt Manor
You can’t really argue with some good, old-fashioned bowling, can you? This place has some particularly good family deals. Monday through Thursday there’s a kids special from 3pm – 6pm where kids up to age 17 bowl unlimited games for $7 (shoes included). Throw in an extra $3 and you get a kids meal. On Fridays they have a Family Night Special from 6pm – 12 am. You can do cosmic bowling for two hours with a choice of kids meal for $16 per person. There’s also a DJ there to make it really feel like a party. 914- 737-4550

Westchester mom Jennifer Garry also blogs at Cuddles and Chaos.

Winter Walk at Rye Beach

Bundle up and explore the sand and surf.

February 17, 2015

We’re a big fan of winter walks in our family. On milder, sunny 35+ degree days, we’ll typically layer on the clothes, lace up the winter boots, and head to our favorite trail. A few weekends ago, we spent an early afternoon at Rye Beach, and our 4-year-old couldn’t have been happier. We loved it too, considering we got our Vitamin D fix walking for an hour in the sun.

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Here’s the cool thing about Rye Beach right now: There’s a great hill for sledding as you first enter the trail (if you park in the lot closest to Playland), and you can bring your dog, thanks to a portion of the beach that is a dedicated dog run. The paved portion of the trail (it runs parallel to the beach) is fairly well-plowed and salted, so it’s easy to explore, but near Seaside Johnny’s, there’s a gate that gives you access down to the sand. (Look at all of that snow!)

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On the day we went, the top portion of the beach was covered in snow. As you walked closer to the water, you hit sand (see top photo). My son chased the birds along the shore, we hunted for mussels on the large boulders at low tide, and it was interesting to see the seaweed, shells, barnacle-covered rocks and feathers that had washed up on the beach in winter.

After the walk, we went to Le Pain Quotidien in Rye for brunch (think: kale and cheddar frittata) and big steaming mugs of chai. My son munched on their Kids Platter (ham, gruyere cheese, celery and carrot sticks, guacamole and berry cup) for $7.95. Everyone went home happy.

Foot Rubs and Brunch. Yes, Please!

Where to treat your feet to a stress-free, inexpensive pampering.

February 15, 2015

By Stacie M. Waldman, a writer and mother of two in Scarsdale.  

When I’m ready to relax, I have a recipe for cheap and easy pampering. It involves a drive to Larchmont, a long, leisurely foot rub, and a big, fluffy omelette. Here’s how to do it:

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Call and schedule an appointment at Lily’s Foot Care in Larchmont (914-630-4704, 153 Larchmont Ave); there’s another Lily’s in Mamaroneck at 118 Mamaroneck Avenue (914-630-7091). Be sure to book an hour time slot. Request a male foot care specialist. (You’ll thank me later.)

Drive to Larchmont and park. Exclaim to yourself how nice it is to be able to park on the street for two hours without searching your ashtray for quarters for the meter or running into a Laundromat to beg for change while you cross your fingers you don’t get ticketed in the meantime.

Head into Lily’s Foot Care. You’ll notice they keep it very quiet inside. Everyone whispers. Put away your phone and finish conversations with girlfriends before you begin your treatment.

Decide on a (super inexpensive!) treatment. I usually get the 10 minute back rub with 50 minute foot/leg rub. Lay back and relax. Open your eyes one hour later, momentarily disappointed that it’s over. Once your vision is no longer blurry from being overly relaxed, revel in the fact that your last hour of bliss cost you a mere $28 (+tip).

Head to Stanz, a cute (but often crowded) cafe around the corner. There’s an extensive menu of gourmet (gigantic) sandwiches, massive salads, and breakfast foods that are served DAILY until, that’s right, 3:00 PM! Eggs cooked your favorite way along with delectable additions such as blue or goat cheese, applewood smoked bacon, arugula, and avocado will tempt you away from the lunch menu. All dishes come with a generous bowl of fresh fruit and not just apples and bananas, but berries and seasonal melons.

Bringing kids with you? They’ll love the pancake platter or waffles, and it won’t cost you $10 like at many local diners. (Think $4.50). Speaking of dollars, the entire menu is very reasonably priced but the food quality and quantity, in my opinion, rivals any high-end brunch spot.

Yes, this morning will cost you less than $40, and you’ll go home feeling rejuvenated. Next time, bring a friend or two. If you live in northern Westchester, we’ve heard great things about Footsie Reflexology on 213 E. Main Street in Mount Kisco; $28 for a 30 minute foot massage/$35 for 60 minutes.

Best Hot Chocolate in Westchester

Snuggle up to your little one with one of these sweet sips.

February 11, 2015

By Michelle Gillan Larkin, a mom and writer living in Northern Westchester

I wasn’t born with a sweet tooth, and neither was my four and a half year old son. That said, the boy is a chocoholic. Milk or dark, he loves it all. So, on a recent 20 degree day, when we were both going stir crazy indoors, I decided to get us out for a treat. We headed right to our local coffee shop; latte for me, hot chocolate for him. He was in heaven. Little angel offered me a sip and I went – Eh. I can find him a better cup o’choc. After days of exploration and taste-tests, I discovered a hearty handful of really outstanding hot chocolates—many of them going easy on the sugar. Which made this mission much easier to swallow (I know, it’s a dirty job…).

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The Most Interesting

This may come as a surprise, but there is some really good and unique hot chocolate warming inside the doors of a Colombian coffee house in Ossining. In fact, at Picante Quimbaya, there’s a whole menu of different chocolate “cocktails,” some hot and some cold. Each is made with pure Colombian chocolate, semi-sweet or unsweetened, and panela, an organic sugar cane. Some are dusted with cinnamon or cloves for a cocoa experience like no other. The brew master has a gentle hand, so no cup is too sweet or overly flavored. It’s smooth, it’s mellow, and in some cases, like the chocobanana or the one with peanut butter, it’s practically a meal. 193 Main Street, Ossining

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The Richest

For hot chocolate that requires a knife and fork instead of a spoon, head straight to Cocoa in Larchmont. I exaggerate, but this potion is more like a thin pudding, than a drink (though, it does go down easy). Very simply, it’s a hunk of Belgian dark chocolate blended with whole milk. A homemade marshmallow or unsweetened whipped cream, also homemade, can be added on top. This drink is made for sipping and served in a 4 oz. cup, which is enough, but, trust me, you’ll want more. 2107 Boston Post Road, Larchmont

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The Best

The mug of thick and creamy hot chocolate that has been haunting my dreams can be found at City Limits in White Plains. Like liquid velvet, it’s a divine concoction of premium French Valrhona chocolate chunks, heavy cream, cinnamon stick, and vanilla bean that is steamed together with milk using the cappuccino machine’s frothing thingy. A honking, homemade, toasted marshmallow, is plopped into the cup along with a generous dollop of whipped cream from scratch. Both toppings melt away slowly, becoming one with the drink and leaving you to wallow in what some would call the highest quality chocolate in the world. It’s luxurious, it’s indulgent, and it’s all I can think about. 200 Central Avenue, White Plains

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The Biggest Effort

For an honest to goodness hot cocoa that requires nothing on top—perhaps because so much work goes into it at the start—run, don’t walk, to The Kneaded Bread in Port Chester. Here, a ten pound bar of semi-sweet American chocolate is melted down to a thick and luscious, dark lava. It is then mixed with milk, cinnamon sticks, and vanilla and left to delicately simmer for hours in a heavy pot. It’s stirred gently and often. At the appointed time, it is whipped into foamy bliss with the cappuccino machine’s frother. This is another hot chocolate that begs to be sipped slowly. Every day. 181 North Main Street, Port Chester

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The Pure and Simplest

At Irvington’s Red Barn Bakery, the hot chocolate is made simply by steaming chocolate chips with milk, using, once again, the cappuccino machine. But, these are not just any chips—they are organic, dark chocolate, and imported from Italy. The whole process makes for a lightly flavored and fluffy drink that is truly soothing. 4 South Astor Street, Irvington

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Worth a Mention

A decent cup of hot chocolate can be found at Chocolations in Mamaroneck and Jean-Jacques’ in Pleasantville. The latter wouldn’t reveal its “secret,” but it didn’t seem homemade. What it did have going for it was the fancy Monin syrup that made the drink either mocha-mint or raspberry. A nice twist. At Chocolations, the hot chocolate is powder-based, but like all chocolate sold in the shop, it’s American. So, while it may not be house-brewed, it is homegrown, and really, quite delicious. I look forward to summertime when it will be transformed into frozen hot chocolate. Good thing my little guy won’t have his license in time.

Did we miss your favorite hot chocolate spot? Tell us about it!

Snow Day Craft: For the Birds

It's National Bird Feeding Month. 3 Fun Projects to Keep Little Hands as Busy as the Birds

February 9, 2015

By Nancy Fann-Im, a freelance writer and editor who blogs at trippyplaces.blogspot.com.

February is National Bird Feeding Month. Our feathered friends are making the final push to get through the winter, and they could use some help. Making bird feeders is the perfect stuck-inside-on-a-snow-day activity for the kids, and the final products are a nice way to decorate your yard. Here are the instructions for three easy-to-make bird feeders.

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Toilet Paper Bird Feeder

This simple craft uses items that you probably already have around the house, and it’s easy enough for preschoolers to construct. Just make sure you have plenty of paper towels on hand – things will get messy, and there might even be some finger licking involved!

Materials:
Birdseed
Creamy peanut butter (if peanut allergy is an issue, substitute with sunflower butter)
Toilet paper tubes
Ribbon

– Pour enough birdseed onto a baking sheet to cover the whole surface, and set up each participant with a toilet paper tube, a piece of ribbon, a plate, and a plastic knife.

– Working over the plate, use the knife to spread peanut butter over the toilet paper tube, covering the entire exterior.

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– Roll the tube over the tray of birdseed, pressing down so that the seeds stick to the peanut butter. Use your fingers to patch up any missed spots with birdseed.

– Thread the ribbon through the tube, and tie a bow on top.

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Cereal Bird Feeder

Give the birds a break from the birdseed with this feeder that uses oat cereal instead. Part bird-feeder craft, part fine-motor skills practice, this activity should keep your kids occupied for a while, especially if they’re munching on the cereal as they’re stringing it, as mine were.

Materials:
O-shaped oat cereal (like Cheerios)
Pipe cleaners
Ribbon

– Set up each participant with three pipe cleaners, a piece of ribbon, and a bowl of cereal.

– String the cereal through the first pipe cleaner, and continue adding to it until half an inch is left on each end. Twist the ends together to form a circle.

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– Repeat with the second pipe cleaner, but before twisting together the ends, insert one end through the loop of the first pipe cleaner to form a link. Do the same with the third pipe cleaner.

– Thread a ribbon through the first pipe cleaner, and tie a bow on top. The pipe cleaners can be gently bent into different shapes, like the hearts pictured here.

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Ornament Bird Feeder

These ornament bird feeders require some patience to complete (you have to wait a day for the gelatin to completely dry), but the steps are fairly simple and the results are impressive. They make great gifts for anyone in need of some wintertime cheer. The instructions below are for making two to three ornaments, depending on the size of your cookie cutters.

Materials:
Unflavored gelatin (available at the supermarket in the Jell-O section)
Birdseed
Cookie cutters
Twine

– In a medium bowl, combine 1 packet gelatin with 1/4 cup hot water. Stir until the particles are completely dissolved.

– Add 3/4 cup birdseed, and continue stirring until all the ingredients are well-integrated. The mixture should be fairly dry; if it’s very wet, add a spoonful of birdseed and continue mixing.

– Give each participant a plate, a spoon, and a cookie cutter. Working over the plate, use the spoon to press the birdseed mixture into the cookie cutter, filling it completely and making sure the seeds are packed in tight. Repeat with the remaining birdseed mixture and other cookie cutters.

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– Use a knitting needle or chopstick to poke a small hole through the top of the ornament while it’s still in the cookie cutter; don’t get too close to the edge. It’s best to do this while laying the ornament flat on the plate.

– Place the cookie cutters in the freezer, and chill for at least 1 hour. Then gently press the ornament out of the cookie cutter; to avoid cracking, push your thumbs against the edges of the shape instead of directly on the center. Let the ornament dry at room temperature for at least a day.

– Thread a piece of twine through the hole you made, and tie the top into a knot.

Bon appétit, birds!

Boing, Boing, BOING At a New Indoor Trampoline Park

Rockin' Jump in Mt. Kisco is bouncing with fun.

February 8, 2015

By Michelle Gillan Larkin, a mom and writer living in Northern Westchester.

What is it about kids and bouncing? They love to do it—but, why? Is it their boundless energy, the fact that we bounced them on our knee as infants, or that it’s actually just fun? You’d never catch me springing about inside a bouncy castle, but my four and a half year old son would drop an ice-cream cone in the dirt just to scramble into one. So when I heard there was a place in Mt. Kisco called Rockin’ Jump that was pretty much wall to wall trampolines, I knew we had to drop everything and check it out.

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The first thing I noticed about Rockin’ Jump was the size of the facility—it’s HUGE. And, there are many different ways to bounce and just, plain jump around. The most notable is the main trampoline room with dozens of interconnected trampolines lining not only the floor, as you’d expect, but also the walls. Really, why limit yourself to jumping in place when you can run up a wall and turn a flip midair? My son and I marveled at this time after time.

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Along with skill, there was a ton of fun energy in the room, and a lot of sweaty, little faces smiling ear to ear—mine among them, to my surprise. The average age in the room (and at the park, overall) was “tween,” but there’s a coned off section for the six and under set. That’s where we spent most of our time discovering that jumping up and down, over and over again, on a super springy trampoline while maintaining some semblance of balance and, dare I say, grace, is a serious workout. But it’s so much FUN. When my little guy started petering out, I almost found myself yelling, “GO FOR THE BURN!!!”

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There is also a smaller room with two basketball hoops (with a trampoline underfoot, even shorty is making the jump shot), and two additional sections for bouncy dodge ball. In both areas, the staff allows only a certain number of kids in at a time, and they try to match them up by age and size.

The other activity that really interested my son was the foam block pit. Naturally, it requires a few good boings to reach it. More experienced bouncers jump their way to the pit as high as they possibly can, then dive in head first, or with a flip. Again, we marveled.

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However, if the very idea of an indoor trampoline park doesn’t put a spring in your step, bring a book and sit the whole thing out on a couch in the spacious seating area. It’s right next to the snack bar, which is stocked with everything necessary to keep your kids jumping for hours: Water, energy bars, and pizza.

The whole thing is really quite a concept, and part-owner/General Manager Andrew Leahy says Rockin’ Jump is all about “clean, safe, fun.” Fun and safe I could already see, but he informed me that every evening after closing the staff sprays the place, top to bottom, with disinfectant.

Rockin’ Jump is open every day and night of the week, with certain times set aside for little jumpers and much bigger ones. Pricing varies depending on age and length of stay, but expect to pay at least $15. The rubber-soled socks all jumpers must wear cost $2, but you get to keep them and bring them for your next visit.

I know I’ll be back, converted bouncer that I am. So long as I can rouse my bouncing baby boy. He’s still sleeping it off. Bonus!

Rockin Jump, 333 N. Bedford Road, Mt. Kisco; 914-743-5730

3 Great Sledding Hills

With more snow headed our way, here's where to go for some sleigh-riding fun.

February 1, 2015

By Michelle Gillan Larkin, a mom and writer living in Northern Westchester.

Cold temps in the forecast should keep the white stuff around for a while, so bundle up, tuck a sled or tube under your arm, and head for the hills. There are about a thousand of them across the county, but some are better, saner, and safer than others. To help you navigate the snowy terrain, here are a few of our favorite spots for slip, slidin’ away. Remember to pack that thermos of hot chocolate.

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The Neighborhood Gem

The nicest, most family-friendly spot for sledding is at Westlake High School in Thornwood. The hills sloping down to the athletic fields attract many of the kids in the area, making for a strong feeling of comradery in the chilly air. Even with 50 or so sleds dotting the ridge at any given time, it really is wide enough to accommodate everyone. It’s a fun ride for one and all, too, with some tamer spots for the one-piece snowsuit set.

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The Legend  

It’s known as Dead Man’s Hill, and it’s not for the faint of heart. Or for those who abhor crowds. But, if you dare, and your stomach can take it (you know Junior’s can), you will find it on the golf course at Lake Isle Country Club in Eastchester. On the 17th Fairway, to be exact. It’s not uncommon to share this wide and challenging hill with a hundred other young daredevils, especially on weekends. Which also means you’ll be in good company as you trudge back up for the next run. And, the next, and the next.

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The Mostest

Ward Pound Ridge is Westchester’s largest park, and with 4,315 acres of trails, meadows, and rolling hills, you’re sure to find a slope that will thrill big and little riders alike. They all seem to know about this top sleighing destination, too, but the most popular hill, located near the Trailside Nature Museum, is roughly 300 feet wide so there’s rarely a case of bumper sleds. The one downside: There is a fee to park on weekends ($5 with a park pass and $10 without); weekdays, however, parking is free.

Date Night: Port Chester Hall and Beer Garden

Tired of dinner and a movie? Here's a better option.

January 30, 2015

By Michelle Gillan Larkin, a mom and writer living in Northern Westchester.

I discovered Port Chester Hall and Beer Garden over the summer, shortly after it opened, when I was on a mission to find the perfect place for my little guy to watch trains go by, while I could sit for a bit, latte in hand. Housed in the historic Port Chester train station, this turned out to be just the ticket. Not only the restaurant itself, but the outdoor beer garden, in particular, as it offers great views, plenty of room to roam, and enough to keep parents busy, too (ahem).

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Now that winter is here, the beer garden is surrounded by roll-down walls which obscure the silver streaks my four-year old longs to see. However, there’s lots more for grown-ups, both inside and out. Which presents the age-old dilemma: Bring the kids or get a sitter?

While this is still a great spot for kids at lunchtime on the weekends, the real name of the game at Port Chester Hall and Beer Garden is big kids night out. In other words: Happy hour, date night, or double-date night because it’s got that “more the merrier” vibe about it.

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It’s a party for your palette, too, and my date night began with the locally brewed pumpkin ale and spring rolls stuffed with pastrami from the famed Carnegie Deli, sauerkraut, and gruyere. I don’t know which I savored more, those crispy little bites of heaven or the divine spicy mustard for dipping. The Kobe sliders were a close second, along with the warm giant pretzel, which is so giant it arrives hanging from something resembling a coat hook.

Like the apps, entree portions are plentiful and plenty creative—both the organic chicken and the St. Louis ribs are prepared in the establishment’s very own smoker. The chicken is tender and flavorful, and I couldn’t get enough of the sweet corn mashed potatoes. (Though I didn’t need the onion straws that were piled on top.)

The biggest mouth-waterer has got to be the bacon & chicken mac n’ cheese. Enough said. Except I should add that it’s super creamy, and delicately seasoned. Plus, it’s topped with something to remind you of those left behind at home: Goldfish. Salads, burgers, and fish tacos round out the “something for everyone” menu, and it really wouldn’t be an authentic beer hall without bratwurst, grilled and served with sauerkraut.

We sampled a few more craft beers during our dinner date—the orange blossom light being the most memorable—and, naturally, saved room for dessert, which is either prepared in-house, like the salted, crunch chocolate mousse (oh my!) or is fresh from a family bakery around the corner.

Take all this fabulous food and drink, mix in the fantastic service, moderate prices, and that truly palpable feeling of fun, and put it all in a building from 1890 (tables are crafted from old Northwest Pacific Railroad floorboards), and you have a recipe for a really interesting night out. Just don’t tell junior you’re on a date at the train station—he’ll never go to sleep for the sitter.

Port Chester Hall and Beer Garden, Port Chester Train Station, 3 Broad Street, Port Chester; 914-305-8383

One Spectacular Slurp

We found the best ramen in Westchester.

January 27, 2015

By Nancy Fann-Im, a freelance writer and editor who blogs at trippyplaces.blogspot.com.

When temperatures are hovering around the freezing mark, nothing hits the spot like a steaming bowl of savory ramen. Until recently, however, it’s been difficult to find an authentic version in Westchester. Sure, there are local Japanese restaurants that include ramen on their menus, but those attempts hardly rival the best that Manhattan has to offer.

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Then a tiny establishment called Ramen Q’s sneaked onto the dining scene, opening in the nondescript space adjacent to the Fuji Mart on White Plains Road in Scarsdale. A foodie friend in the neighborhood informed me that the ramen there was legitimate, but I was initially skeptical, having gotten my hopes up about other places too many times before.

Several visits later, I’m a complete devotee. Ramen Q’s serves up the real deal; the broth is thick and creamy, the noodles perfectly al dente, the slices of chashu pork tender and flavorful. For $9, choose between the shio (salt) or shoyu (soy sauce) ramen, and a broth based on tonkotsu (pork) or chicken. My recommendation is to go whole hog with the fatty, hearty tonkotsu shoyu ramen, but if you prefer to have your comfort food and eat healthy, too, stick with the lighter chicken broth. Tack on the combo option to get gyoza and a rice dish for a mere $3 more. My husband and I usually order two combo meals, and that’s enough to feed ourselves and our two small children. But do save some room for dessert – on display are fresh mochi, sweet buns and other goodies. My kids’ favorite is the jelly-filled bun shaped like Hello Kitty.

When I first started frequenting Ramen Q’s a few months ago, the small space would be quite empty at all hours of the day. Since then it’s become considerably more popular through word of mouth. The restaurant is a no-frills counter operation with just a handful of tables, so if you go on the weekend for lunch, expect to wait around a bit for a table to free up. Once you give those noodles a slurp, though, you’ll agree that the food is completely worth the wait.

Ramen Q’s, 816 White Plains Road, Scarsdale, 914-472-1468; closed on Mondays; last orders taken at 7 p.m. Ramen Q’s is technically cash only, but you could pay for your meal using a credit card at the attached Fuji Mart.  

Day Trip to Thunder Ridge Ski Area

January 24, 2015

By Lauren Bedford, a Westchester mom who spent her high school years teaching skiing in Maine. I am originally from Maine, and one thing Mainers know how to do right is enjoy winter. After all, up north there is a too-short but glorious summer and then a lot of cold. And snow. That, to me, […]

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Where to Take Prenatal Yoga in Westchester

January 20, 2015

As soon as I found out that I was pregnant, I immediately went on the hunt for a good prenatal yoga class. Not only does the deep breathing prep your body for labor, but as you grow bigger, so does your need for deep stretching. So I put together a round-up of all of the […]

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Is It Really Just a Phase?

January 19, 2015

A couple of friends and I were texting the other day when one mentioned a particularly stressful car ride with her almost 2-year-old. At a certain point in the drive, they hit a bad snowstorm and her daughter started screaming. Shrieking really — and it made the drive that much more stressful. Your daughter had […]

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Ice Hunting At River Walk

January 16, 2015

My 4-year-old is obsessed with ice. He stops in his tracks whenever he spies icicles, crushes frozen puddles of it with his feet, chips away it on our back deck, and ultimately, collects pieces of it and stores it in the freezer. (Ugh!) I love winter walks, so on a recent sunny day I told […]

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